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Postcolonialism, Diaspora, and Alternative Histories

Postcolonialism, Diaspora, and Alternative Histories: The Cinema of Evans Chan

Edited by Tony Williams
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Postcolonialism, Diaspora, and Alternative Histories
    Book Description:

    This volume offers the first comprehensive survey of the cinema of Evans Chan, a New York-based playwright, author, and filmmaker whose acclaimed films include To Liv(e), The Map of Sex and Love, and Datong. In this collection of essays on Chan’s documentary and feature films seven experts on cultural and film studies examine the unique blending of fictional representation, historical investigation, and critical essayism that characterize Chan’s oeuvre. They discuss how Chan’s work brings out the contradictory nature of the distant and recent past through his exploration of Hong Kong’s rapid transformation before and after reunification with China in 1997. The volume concludes with an interview with Evans Chan on his work to date and includes two DVDs containing extracts from his most important films. The book will appeal to scholars and students who are interested in China and Hong Kong cinema, postcolonial studies, cultural studies, and diaspora studies.

    eISBN: 978-988-8313-48-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Chapter One Introduction to the Work of Evans Chan
    (pp. 1-10)
    Tony Williams

    The following collection of essays represents the first critical anthology in English to concentrate on the films of Evans Chan. Chan is well known and respected in Hong Kong not only for his films, but also for his journalism and film criticism. Although his name is not as prominent in the West, outside of art cinemas and university circuits, this has little to do with the merits of his work. Instead, one can look to the contemporary system of film distribution, in which a distinctive trend of art cinema, once widely circulated, is now conspicuous in its absence due to...

  7. Chapter Two The Film Essay and Political Discourse in Evans Chan’s To Liv(e)
    (pp. 11-26)
    Amy Lee

    When Liv Ullmann accused Hong Kong of mistreating Vietnamese refugees after her 1990 visit to the territory as a member of the delegation of the “Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children” sent to investigate human rights abuses in Hong Kong detention centers, she joined a chorus of celebrity voices (e.g., Richard Gere, Sharon Stone, and Mia Farrow) who have condemned China’s record on human rights over the past few decades. Ullmann’s statement becomes the point of departure for Evans Chan’sTo Liv(e)(1992), a film in which the protagonist, Rubie, critiques Ullmann’s easy judgment of Hong Kong’s predicament in...

  8. Chapter Three Crossings: A Transnational Cinematic Text
    (pp. 27-34)
    Tony Williams

    Crossingsis ostensibly a fictional narrative set in New York involving motifs familiar to many viewers of Hong Kong’s prolific generic cinema, namely the broken romance set in a foreign surrounding and drug smuggling. Like other exilic narratives such asAn Autumn’s Tale, Farewell China, Floating Weeds,andComrades: Almost a Love Story, Crossingsfocuses upon certain aspects of the immigrant experience such as dislocation and loss that threaten the secure identities of its main characters. LikeFarewell ChinaandComrades,it involves the theme of a love relationship affected by alienating experiences encountered by both participants within a new...

  9. Chapter Four Homelessness and Self-Disclosure: Evans Chan’s “Minor” Cinema
    (pp. 35-40)
    Hector Rodriguez

    Hungarian philosopher Georg Lukács described all literature as a response to the broad existential problems that confronted their authors. An important feature is the close connection between metaphysical and historical questions. On the one hand, all literary forms articulate a general vision of what it means to be human. On the other hand, this vision is elaborated in response to the author’s cultural and political context.

    In Lukács’s view, the novel arises out of a fundamental problem: deep-rooted frameworks of orientation have disappeared, social structures have become mere conventions, and objective moral standards no longer command absolute conviction. He describes...

  10. Chapter Five “Absurd Connections,” or Cosmopolitan Conviviality in The Map of Sex and Love
    (pp. 41-56)
    Kenneth Chan

    This book celebrates Evans Chan as cultural critic, political filmmaker, and transcultural artist.¹ In dissecting Chan’s 2001 filmThe Map of Sex and Lovein research for this chapter, I am moved to add to this string of accolades: cosmopolitan activist. There is a cultural political prescience that Chan demonstrates through this film, proving once more that he has his finger on the proverbial pulse of transnational/diasporic concerns.The Map of Sex and Loveis an intriguing hybrid film that synergizes the generic energies of philosophical treatise, political critique, and performance art; so as to deliver to viewers a cinematic...

  11. Chapter Six Issues of Decolonization: Two Essay Documentaries by Evans Chan
    (pp. 57-80)
    Tony Williams

    The year 2007 saw the tenth anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Mainland China following a century and a half of British rule. In two years’ time, the former Portuguese colony of Macao would experience its own type of celebration. Both anniversaries will undoubtedly evoke contradictory feelings on the part of those considering the events a decade later. The end of a twentieth-century era of Western colonial rule is certainly positive. But at the same time the very nature of reunification involving the lack of democratic consultation with the former colonized inhabitants of both territories may be regarded in a...

  12. Chapter Seven Brecht in Hong Kong: Evans Chan’s The Life and Times of Wu Zhong Xian
    (pp. 81-100)
    Gina Marchetti

    As a cultural critic, dramatist, and filmmaker, Evans Chan demonstrates awareness of the major currents in world cinema, theater, and critical theory. Techniques associated with Bertolt Brecht, for example, surface in many of his films withThe Life and Times of Wu Zhong Xian(2003) as, perhaps, the clearest and most self-conscious illustration of this interest. In this film, Chan documents a performance indebted to Brecht by Hong Kong dramatist Mok Chiu Yu² juxtaposed with found footage, fictionalized reenactments, intertitles, and voice-overs to comment deliberately and self-reflexively on the continuing importance of Brecht in Hong Kong film and theater.


  13. Chapter Eight Sound and Vision: The Artistry of Margaret Leng Tan and Evans Chan in Sorceress of the New Piano, Makrokosmos I & II, and The Maverick Piano
    (pp. 101-120)
    Michael Ingham

    Ever since the inception of sound cinema with 1927’s groundbreakingThe Jazz Singer, there has been an intrinsic, virtually inseparable relationship between sound and vision in the minds of filmmakers. Al Jolson’s musical contribution to that film’s success cannot be underestimated. Electronically mediated synchronous sound replaced externally produced, and to an extent extraneous, live music, and the possibility of a total fusion of cinematic sound and vision was born. The twin channels of reception were not, however, destined to be of equal status. Rather like the converse of a Victorian child, film sound was usually intended by the producers to...

  14. Chapter Nine Global Aches: Teaching Evans Chan’s Bauhinia
    (pp. 121-136)
    Stacilee Ford

    Bauhiniais, in some respects, Evans Chan “lite.” A pithy fifty minutes in length (the version that aired originally in Hong Kong was an even shorter twenty-one minutes), the film offers its audience Chan’s seamless essay-like integration of reality and fiction, artistic blend of music and camerawork (both the intimate and public spaces of Manhattan are depicted in a highly stylized yet pleasing manner), and compelling performances by several young actors. ButBauhiniais a thoughtful and teachable exploration of complex and combustible topics including the gender politics of relationships in diaspora, China’s one-child policy, and the impact of 9/11...

  15. Chapter Ten An Interview with Evans Chan
    (pp. 137-156)
    Tony Williams and Evans Chan

    So far, you’ve directed a very diverse body of work that defies any attempt to categorize it within any one generic classification. How would you (if possible) define your approach as a filmmaker?*

    How I approach a subject tends to be intuitive, so I can’t tell you about a definite approach. Maybe a little bit of my background will provide some anchorage points for our discussion.

    I started off as a film/cultural critic and a literary columnist, since my first love was literature, particularly, the novel form—James, Conrad, Dostoevsky,Dream of the Red Chamber, Eileen Chang are works/authors that...

  16. Filmography
    (pp. 157-162)
  17. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 163-164)
  18. Index
    (pp. 165-185)